The ride to the hospital had been uneventful, for the most part. As the one male EMT documented her injuries, he asked specific and humiliating questions regarding her vaginal injuries. Joy just turned her body toward the wall of the ambulance and tuned him out.
She was now inside a cold sterile room, all tile and chrome. She had been told a doctor would be in soon to perform an exam. Joy watched all the popular crime shows; she knew that exam would be a vaginal exam for a rape evidence kit. In ordinary situations this type of exam would be uncomfortable; in this case it would be utterly embarrassing. She was wondering what Daniel was thinking about all of this. She didn’t know how she would ever face him. Just then a man and a woman in scrubs came in the room.
“Mrs. Jamison, I’m Dr. Robbins and this is Nurse Pritchett. We will be performing a complete exam, including a rape evidence kit. First thing I’m going to suture that laceration on your neck; it should only take about three stitches or so. Are you injured anywhere else?”
“Aren’t there any female doctors available?” Joy asked with her eyes cast downward.
“Yes, but I am particularly experienced in evidence retrieval. I have worked with many rape victims. I can assure you that I will be respectful and considerate in my care for you. Are you sure you want a female doctor?”
Joy bit down on her lower lip. “I guess this will be okay.”
“That’s great Joy. Can you tell me about your other injuries?”
Joy sighed. “My vaginal area hurts.”
“Okay, we’ll see what’s going on down there after I suture your neck. Do you have any questions for me?”
“Yes, is my husband Daniel here?”
“Yes, but he’ll have to wait outside during the evidence retrieval process.” The nurse began opening an instrument tray and a suture repair kit, along with various other medical paraphernalia.
They had Joy stand on a plastic sheet and strip off first her towel, then her bathing suit. She was given a gown to put on and she sat on the edge of the exam table while the doctor sutured her neck wound. As she was laid back for the exam, she felt her consciousness drift from her body. As the vaginal exam began, the disassociation continued. If there was pain during the evidence collection, she did not feel it. She just laid there, floating above it all. If not for the ceiling, she might have even floated away.
“Mrs. Jamison? Mrs. Jamison, we’re all done. I must say you handled that remarkably well. There are abrasions on your perineum, vagina, and vaginal walls; but there’s no actual tears. You are going to be sore for a few days; I’ll give you a script for a cream for the soreness. Also, soaking in a hot tub will ease your discomfort. The majority of you pain will not be physical, however. I would suggest you seek psychological treatment to help with the trauma you’ve experienced. The more you try to ignore the symptoms of the rape, the more they will intrude into your life.” The doctor looked at her earnestly, trying to impress the importance of his speech onto Joy.
Joy sat through the majority of his speech, letting it go over her head. This doctor was a man. He didn’t have a ‘real’ grasp what the psychological effects of a rape truly were.
The nurse handed her a set of scrubs. “You can put these on to wear home. I’ll give you a few minutes and then send your husband in to see you.” The nurse smiled, but the smile was strained. Being a woman, she fully grasped what the psychological effects of a rape were.
Joy was feeing the strain of having to put on a brave face. Just how long could she go on before she could be herself and be by herself; before she could stay herself?